Those new to the soundclash culture of Dancehall Reggae saw firsthand the intensity and high stakes action when two masters of the craft faced off. Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, two of Jamaica’s most decorated deejays, clashed for a well-attended VERZUZ battle for the ages that was entertaining until the very end.
At a later date, we’ll get more into the soundclash culture and how it is a hallmark of dancehall music but the claim of superiority is an important mantle to the artist and sound systems that make up the genre. To put it in simpler terms, the clash is the framework that battle rap exists upon today. These head-to-head battles are often steeped in long-running feuds with real stakes behind the scenes, and that was true for Beenie and Bounty.
Beenie Man has been an artist since grade school with Bounty Killer also starting his career at a young age as well. Both men began surging as dancehall stars in the early 1990s and in 1992, Beenie began taking shots at Bounty by saying his budding rival took the “people dead” phrase for himself by lifting it.
The feud came to a boiling point in 1993 during the epic Sting festival where Beenie was performing and Bounty stormed the stage. However, not only did Beenie welcome the challenge, he stood tall against Bounty in what is still one of the most historic clashes and may have eclipsed the 1991 Sting clash between Super Cat and Ninjaman, both grandmaster deejays themselves.
The back and forth between Beenie and Bounty continued on with both men getting the better of the other interchangeably over the years. And while Bounty has enjoyed fame internationally, Beenie’s commercial success and crossover appeal had the pair hitting different markets altogether.
On Instagram Live, the battle got a bit of a late start but the wait was worth it with over 500,000 viewers awaiting the battle. Beenie and Bounty, perhaps showing kindness to American and international viewers, rattled off songs with collaborators such as Pharrell Williams, Smif N Wesun aka Cocoa Brovaz, Wyclef, Prodigy, and more.
But perhaps the greatest portion of the battle was not when the police nearly interrupted the session, but the fact that Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness joined the festivities. Rihanna entered the chat and got a hilarious shoutout from the fellas, with so many celebrities showing off their Jamaican pride, like Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond, and more.
The full battle can be viewed below, and the Verzuz team has compiled the playlist links here. Keep scrolling to see some of our favorite reactions on Twitter.
Big up to Beenie Man and Bounty Killer for an entertaining and energetic VERZUZ battle.
Holy crap, the Instagram copyright rules did hit the Bounty Killer vs Beenie Man Verzuz battle stream. Swizz Beatz says they can't play no more than 90 seconds of a song. #VERZUZ pic.twitter.com/Kek7Kuxfnv— DJ Heat (@DJHeatDC) May 24, 2020
After watching Beenie Man and Bounty Killer battle pic.twitter.com/tXNKZOtGYB— Zoe 🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹 (@YourFavoriteZoe) May 24, 2020
Me in the Bounty Killer vs Beenie Man not understanding a word being said. pic.twitter.com/CMITUVmdgF— Kevín (@KevOnStage) May 24, 2020
Big up Bounty Killer and Beenie Man!— Team Jamaica (@TeamJA876) May 24, 2020
Jamaica won #VERZUZ.
What a performance! It was another amazing night for Jamaican music and Jamaicans seeing icons Beenie Man and Bounty Killer captivate the global audience. 🇯🇲🇯🇲 #ProudJamaican #BeenieManVsBountyKiller #VERZUZ pic.twitter.com/C3LxQlaZM3— FLOW Jamaica (@FLOWJamaica) May 24, 2020
I took photos of tonight’s live Verzuztv Beenie Man be Bounty Killer battle. pic.twitter.com/89UKv3yG4w— Kreshonna Keane (@VisualsbyK) May 24, 2020
Americans when the stimulus cheques finally hit their bank account 😫😫😫 pic.twitter.com/JmAY3ohC5w— Tenille. (@tenilleclarke1) May 24, 2020
When you’re trying to “Signal D Plane” but you forgot to fuel up 💀💀💀 pic.twitter.com/2STJ5yMnul— Tenille. (@tenilleclarke1) May 24, 2020
Beenie man and Bounty Killer remind me of some of my best partying days back in boatyard, ship inn, reggae lounge, after dark, club extreme and campus boys. I think my generation hands down had THE BEST partying days.— Samantha Field ✨ (@MsField89) May 24, 2020
Bounty Killer had me crying when the cops pulled up 😂🔥Beenie man said “officer we have 500k people watching right now, you really wanna be that guy right now?” 😂😂— theGREATs. 🦉 (@ixivMo) May 24, 2020
Beenie Man watching Bounty Killer talk to Rihanna pic.twitter.com/3yr3qvsG31— A Redbone Thug Named Trevon (@altaredvision) May 24, 2020
The Beenie Man- Bounty Killer battle was 🔥🔥🔥🔥, and this moment might have been the best of a boatload or memorable moments 🇯🇲— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) May 24, 2020
if you think about, not many rappers of today can touch Beenie man or bounty killer.— P-RALLEL (@paralleltheory_) May 24, 2020
the Beenie Man vs Bounty Killer battle has to be the BEST battle by far during this quarantine— Ellie (@_perksofem) May 24, 2020
bap bap bap
This Beenie Man vs. Bounty Killer Verzuz Battle has me running out for Red Stripe....— Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29) May 24, 2020